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The five easy ways to use Twitter for your small business

Yes, social media is time-consuming. Twitter, that elusive 140-character micro blogging service that recently hit 100 million active users, requires about as much creativity as time to take advantage of from a marketing perspective. As Globe and Mail tech writer Omar El Akkad wrote in September, small and medium sized business “can’t afford to ignore social media, no matter how time-consuming it may be.”

However, we are not all tech-savvy pop culture savants with hours to spend crafting clever and insightful messages for our devoted followers to feast upon several times a day. We have businesses to run! Clients to serve. Deadlines to meet.

But as Akkad says, Twitter cannot be ignored in our currently rapid-moving information exchange age. Ideally, small and medium sized businesses should be moving seriously towards investing in social media upkeep. A part-time Social Media Manager for your business could efficiently balance all social media platform involvement, while writing the business blog and contributing across the mediums to market specific dialogue. Navigator Multimedia currently offers this service with flexible options tailored to our clients’ budgets and social media needs.

This is the direction social media use will have to go for business owners. The Twitter community continues to grow, and significant involvement will become more and more time consuming, and much more of a social challenge. Keeping the potential client’s attention will require that little bit extra.

If your business isn’t ready for a higher level of social media investment, can effective Twitter presence still be possible on tight time?

I’d say yes. Try these five simple ways to improve your business’ Twitter involvement. Be patient with the process. Remember, Twitter “is a medium where the oxygen gets taken up by people who, for better or for worse, have a lot to say, whether it’s about economics or pastrami on rye.” (Globe and Mail)

1. Take photos

So maybe you don’t have anything to say today. On Twitter, a picture can speak for you. For businesses, it’s a great way to share project designs, building changes, goofy office pranks or staff shots. It creates a genuine, personable identity for your company. Use third party services like Twitpic, Pikchur, or Tweetphoto to upload your iPhone and Android shots to your Twitter account.

2. Ask questions

People sign on to Twitter for conversation. By asking a question relevant to your follower base, you encourage dialogue and take the pressure off yourself to produce something extra-clever. For example, if your company sells flooring, you could tweet “ Hey everyone! Who makes the best hardwood cleaner out there today?” Seeking advice or sparking a debate lures those chatty Twitter users in.

3. Trend

You log on to your business’ Twitter account and notice a row of odd-looking fragmented sentences or phrases down the lower right column of your pages. Click on one, like #VampiresvsZombies. Looks silly, right? But it’ll take you to a conversation that has been highlighted by the hashtag “#VampiresvsZombies” by Twitter users across the globe. By joining into this popular conversation, you make yourself seen by millions of other users. And by choosing the trending topics that are relevant to your business, you can involve yourself effectively and perhaps get some free advertising out of it!

4. Answer back

The work of seeking out potential clients to follow, and convincing others to follow your business’ Twitter profile is work within itself. Maintaining those connections is crucial, and demands that you actively engage with the conversations going on within the circles of your followers, daily. Answering followers’ queries, like “Hey @Navigatormm,  can I get a quote on a CD order?” must be taken as seriously as a message left via voicemail or email.  Checking in to see if there are questions to answer or interesting comments to respond to can be quick and give you some present-moment tweet fodder to use.

5. Swim strong

Maintaining an effective business Twitter account can seem daunting. Head into it with a goal: Will this specific social media platform be used for sales and announcements? Links to interesting articles and information? Staff jokes and employee-to-employee communication? With a specific idea of how you plan to use your account, the prospect of signing in and joining the conversation won’t seem too scary, or like too much work.

Give these tips a try for more effective and time-efficient Twitter use. I’d love to hear if you find this advice useful!

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